Think (IBM)

"THINK" is a slogan associated with the computer company IBM.


The "THINK" slogan was first used by Thomas J. Watson in December, 1911, while managing the sales and advertising departments at the National Cash Register Company.[1] At an uninspiring sales meeting Watson interrupted, saying "The trouble with every one of us is that we don't think enough. We don't get paid for working with our feet we get paid for working with our heads". Watson then wrote THINK on the easel.[2]

Asked later what he meant by the slogan, Watson replied, "By THINK I mean take everything into consideration. I refuse to make the sign more specific. If a man just sees THINK, he'll find out what I mean. We're not interested in a logic course."[3]

In 1914, Watson brought the slogan with him to the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) and its subsidiaries, all of which later became IBM.[4][5][6][7] International Time Recording, one of the subsidiaries, published a magazine, Time, for employees and customers that, in 1935, IBM would rename THINK.[8][9] IBM continues to use the slogan.[10] THINK is also an IBM trademark; IBM named its laptop computers ThinkPads and named a line of business-oriented desktop computers ThinkCentre.

Since 2018, IBM's main conference is called Think.[11]


The Apple slogan, "Think Different" has been widely taken as a response to IBM's THINK.[12][13][14]

"THINK" entered the popular culture, often in a humorous context.[15]


  1. Random House Webster's College Dictionary. Random House. 1999. p. 1237.slogan: a distinctive phrase or motto identified with a particular party, product, etc.
  2. Belden, Thomas; Belden, Marva (1962). The Lengthening Shadow: The Life of Thomas J. Watson. Little, Brown and Company. pp. 157–8.
  3. Belden (1962) p.158
  4. IBM Archives: THINK Sign
  5. Maney, Kevin (2003). The Maverick and His Machine: Thomas Watson, Sr., and the Making of IBM. Wiley. ISBN 0-471-41463-8.
  6. Tedlow, Richard S. (2003). The Watson Dynasty. Harper Business. ISBN 0-06-001405-9.
  7. Engelbourg, Saul (1954). International Business Machines: A Business History (Ph.D.). Columbia University. pp. 103–105. Reprinted by Arno Press, 1976, from the best available copy. Some text is illegible.
  8. Aswad, Ed; Meredith, Suzanne M. (2005). IBM in Endicott. Arcadia. p. 18.
  9. Cousins, Robert (ed) (1957). The Will to THINK: A Treasury of Ideas and Ideals from the Pages of THINK. Farrar, Straus and Cudahy.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link) The books introduction, The Thinking Man, was written by Thomas J. Watson.
  10. Think Exhibit
  11. "Introducing THINK 2018". 2017-11-01. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  12. Clifton, Rita; Ahmad, Sameena (2009). Brands and Branding. The Economist. Bloomberg Press. p. 116. ISBN 978-1576601471.
  13. Altstiel, Tom; Grow, Jean (2005). Advertising Strategy: Creative Tactics from the Outside/In. Sage Publications, Inc. p. 24. ISBN 978-1412917964.
  14. Sull, Donald Norman (2003). Revival of the Fittest: Why Good Companies Go Bad and How Great Managers Remake Them. Harvard Business Review Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-1578519934.
  15. Maney, Kevin (2003). The Maverick and His Machine. Wiley. p. 437.

See also

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